♣Lucky Nr. 13
New Zealand has been the 13th country on my travel list so far and it couldn’t be more suited. My birthday is on the 13th so this number has always been a lucky one for me. I got to visit this beautiful country sometimes called Middle-Earth with my boyfriend. In the first part I was telling you about our road trip from Auckland to Tongariro National Park, Lake Taupo to Tauranga and back again to Auckland. 4 days to visit this wonderful country is tight but I am very grateful I got a glimpse at it.
Respect Mother Nature
Like most travellers, I found New Zealand to be absolutely spectacular, even better than what you would expect. I wish it would stay the same over the years, since the number of tourists is increasing from year to year. With a population of 4.5 million people, the almost 3 million tourists per year surely can impact the environment. What I would like to promote here is for the people travelling to New Zealand and not only is to support local communities and respect mother nature, leaving no trace behind.
Hint for Romanians travelling to New Zealand
Expect to be questioned if you have just a short stay like me, or you raise any other suspicion from the authorities. You don’t need a visa to go there, but you may be asked to show financial statements, hotel reservations or return flights. New Zealand, as well as Australia, are known to have a very strict policy about immigration and travel rules. For instance, the fine for bringing undeclared food into New Zealand is 400 NZD.
Let’s get on with the adventure in Middle-Earth
Now actually focusing on the trip, I have to tell that leaving Tongariro National Park made me a bit nostalgic, but that only because I didn’t know what was coming! Damien promised that the place where we’ll stay next will be more special but I didn’t expect the place to be actually this good!
The beautiful lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand and in all Australasia and is the size of Singapore. The lake is the crater of one of the largest volcano eruptions of the last 5000 years.
We made two short stops along the Taupo River,as it was actually a detour from Tongariro National Park to Rotorua Lake Resort where we stayed that night. This region is great to drive by: scenic roads, cliffs and the intense hue of blue are meant to impress any traveller.
As you may imagine, popular activities in the area are fishing, sky-diving, mountain-biking, sailing, rafting but also Spa Parks(given the geothermal area) and Hot Springs.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
This magnificent place is found between Lake Taupo and Lake Rotorua and is one of the must-visit places in the northern island of New Zealand. Unfortunately we arrived too late, as the park was just closing. Wai-O-Tapu(sacred waters) offers visitors a glimpse at the stunning geothermal activity and walks along the pools, lakes, craters, steam vents and mineral terraces. The main attractions are The Champagne Pool, The Mud Pools, The Artist’s Palette and Lady Knox Geyser which erupts daily at 10:15. We still got to see The Mud Pools and some steam vents.
For you to have an idea what the place is all about:
Rotorua Lake Resort
We finally arrived at this wonderful resort that Damien kept secret until the very last moment and I couldn’t be more excited. A few months ago I was actually dreaming of having a getaway with him by the lake.
Incredible service, location and view. The price is average(120 NZD per night) but totally worth it. We also had our Valentine’s Day Dinner in advance at the resort’s restaurant, a small but elegant place with a nice atmosphere. The fish of the day was delicious and had a really good price: 25 NZD.
Off to Tauranga
Tauranga is a harbour-side city connected to Mount Maunganui, a beach town with hot saltwater pools and an extinct volcano with winding walking paths. We stopped along the beach to watch the waves as this has been voted the best beach in the country. This is the ultimate spot to swim, surf and sunbathe but we got unlucky with the cloudy weather.
Later we continued our stroll towards the heights of Mt. Maunganui. We hiked about half the trail and then we got exhausted, as we clearly came unprepared. The views were stunning even so, you get a better aerial view of The Bay of Plenty the higher you get.
Our next short stop was at Smart India, a restaurant close to the beach where we had lunch. Damien came here before with his partners and he wanted to bring me there ever since. Said and done, this place may have the best indian food I’ve ever got, and that, with just a 10 NZD menu!
Back on the road, this time coming back to Auckland to catch our flight back to Melbourne, we were grateful for having had such a great experience in New Zealand, and with a strong desire to come back and explore more. We are still feeling sorry for the fact we didn’t visit Wai-O-Tapu but will definitely do in the future as it’s only 3 hours drive from Auckland.
Again, I have to say I’m pretty grateful for visiting this beautiful and unique country and that something switched in me… Be that the wanderlust feeling or the never ending desire to discover Earth’s natural beauties, New Zealand is definitely worth exploring.